A small flock of aptly-named Black Necked Stilts - one of Florida’s most striking shorebirds, the slim, extremely long-legged, Black-Necked Stilt feeds while wading in shallow wetlands, salt ponds and flooded fields. They eat aquatic insects, small fish, larvae, beetles and tadpoles, and sometimes sweep their bills from side-to-side while feeding, like spoonbills and avocets.
More than 1000 pairs of black-necked stilts are thought to breed in Florida, mostly south of Daytona Beach and Homosassa Springs. Breeding pairs are easy to spot as they defend their nest vigorously with dive-bombing displays and loud vocalizations. Look for them around Cape Canaveral, Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, the phosphate mines of Polk and Hillsborough counties, and the Water Conservation Areas of western Palm Beach County. They also breed along the southeastern coast of Florida and in the Keys.
Black-necked stilts nest on the ground or on platforms of dried vegetation. The female usually lays four eggs and both parents take turns with nesting duties. In very hot weather, adult birds sometimes cool the eggs by wetting their belly feathers before taking up their post on the nest. In Florida most chicks hatch in the first week of June—they can walk well enough to leave the nest within a few hours and swim within 24 hours. Black-necked stilt parents are very solicitous and will aggressively chase other birds away from the chicks.
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